Rural round-up

25/09/2020

Lower sheep and beef farmers sentiment chief contributor to rural confidence fall – Rabobank – Maja Burry:

Waning sentiment among sheep and beef farmers has pushed rural confidence deeper into negative territory in Rabobank’s latest rural confidence survey.

The survey, completed earlier this month, found net farmer confidence has slipped to -32 percent, down from -26 percent previously. In the last quarterly survey there had been a strong recovery from historic lows recorded early in the year.

Rabobank said the chief contributor to the lower net reading was markedly-lower sheep and beef farmer sentiment. That negated higher confidence levels reported among dairy farmers and horticulturalists, who were bouyed by improving demand for products.

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive, Todd Charteris, said sheep and beef farmers reported lingering concerns over government policy and the on-going impacts of Covid-19. . . 

2021 Zanda McDonald Award to crown two winners:

In an Award first, the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced today that they will crown not one, but two winners – one from each side of the Tasman – for the 2021 Award.

Eight passionate and talented young individuals in the primary sector have been named in the shortlist for the prestigious trans-Tasman award – four from Australia, and four from New Zealand.

The award, now in its seventh year, recognises talented and passionate young professionals working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package. The shortlist have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making in the primary sector.

The change for 2021 comes as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, which prevents the award judges from being able to interview the usual shortlist of six together in one place, to determine the overall winner for Australasia. . . 

The case for trout farming – Clive Barker:

Anglers have long resisted the idea of commercial trout farming but a select committee recently recommended the Government give the idea “serious consideration”. Clive Barker makes the case for trout farming.

The species of fish used for aquaculture were at one time very limited. Carp were the fish used in pond culture originally in China. The method was transferred and developed in Europe during the Middle Ages. This was to help inland populations to follow the centuries-old law of meat abstinence on Fridays. In addition, there was the period of Lent during which eating meat was also prohibited. The 15th and 16th centuries were called the ”Golden Age” of Carp pond farming.

By the 1700s, river trout stock depletion had become a problem and in 1741 Stephen Ludwig Jacobi established the first trout hatchery in Germany. From this time, anglers have started to depend on cultured supplies of trout to increase or substitute the natural wild trout production. . . 

Feds suitably impressed with week of agriculture and horticulture announcements:

This has been a promising week for farmers.

Federated Farmers says it started with an excellent agriculture policy from ACT announced on Monday, followed by Labour’s positive farm plan policy announced by the Prime Minister and Agricultural Minister yesterday and finishing today with a well-researched and well thought out National Party Agriculture and Horticulture policies today.

National’s policy outlines a situation where the border is effectively closed, and New Zealand has lost almost a quarter of foreign earnings in the form of tourism and international education, leaving primary industries keeping the economy afloat.

Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard says all these policies are the shot in the arm that our primary industries require. . . 

Shrek 2 found in Gisborne

First there was the South Island Shrek who came to our attention in 2004 – now a rival has been found in Gisborne.

She’s finally been caught at Wairakaia Station and has been given a name – Gizzy Shrek.

Farmer Rob Faulkner has been on her tail for years, he says.

“She’s been eluding me for about four or five years now and she finally came in through the back paddock”, Ron told Jesse Mulligan.

Empty meat counters – Uptown Farms:

Have you ever had your washer breakdown? It’s a real pain, and can cause a real issue around the house.
Finding someone to fix it is tough – skilled labor is hard to come by.

While you’re waiting, the laundry doesn’t stop coming. Everyone in the house keeps sending more your way. But without the washer – you’re stuck. There’s literally no where for the clothes to go.

Meanwhile, with huge piles of clothes stacking up on one side, clean clothes are becoming pretty scarce. Everyone in the house is wearing their jeans multiple times and getting nervous as they watch their underwear drawer slowly empty out…

This is what’s happening in our meat industry right now. Instead of washers and laundry it’s packing plants and livestock.
Many packing plants have been forced to shut down or run at lowered capacity because of Covid outbreaks and sick employees. Enough that it has created a massive backup on one side. . . 


Farmer confidence plummets

27/09/2019

Farmer confidence has plummeted again:

Farmer confidence is at its lowest level since the March 2016 quarter, with many citing central Government policy as the reason for concern, according to the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey.

Overall net confidence has dropped from -2 per cent in the previous quarter to -33 per cent and the percentage of farmers expecting the rural economy to worsen over the next 12 months has risen by 18 per cent to 43 per cent.

“That’s extraordinary at a time when prices across most farming sectors are up on where they’ve been in recent years. Farmer confidence is now at levels not seen since we were in the grip of the dairy downturn,” Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon said.

“Government policy is identified as the key worry, with a host of measures being introduced that will affect the profitability and viability of farming.”

We have spent the last week in Western Australia with some of the top farmers from both sides of the Tasman.

Some of the Australians are battling drought but the mood among them was generally positive.

The broad acre farming in the Esperance hinterland is very different from New Zealand conditions and systems. We could only wonder how they could grow wheat when they’d had only 150 mms of rain.

The weather in New Zealand hasn’t been causing much concern and markets for everything except strong wool are buoyant, it’s government policies which are driving down farmer confidence here.

The implement this tractor is towing is mulching gum stumps from hundreds of hectares of felled gum trees in preparation for sowing crops and pasture.

That contrasts with New Zealand where many thousands of hectares of productive farmland is being covered with pine trees, with government encouragement and subsidies.

Sixty-eight per cent of farmers with a negative outlook identified government policy, such as freshwater reform and future greenhouse gas obligations, as a primary reason for their concern.

“Farmers are singled out in the Zero Carbon Bill as the only industry not allowed to offset their carbon emissions, while heavy industry and other polluters can. That makes no sense,” Falloon said. . . 

Australian farmers had no concerns about being forced into an emissions trading scheme and generally face much more relaxed policies around the environment than those we’re being threatened with.

Farm produce is much less important to the Australian economy than  it is to New Zealand’s but their farmers felt better understood and appreciated than ours do.

When we’ve been on trips like this before, we return home thinking it’s easier to farm on our side of the Tasman. But this time we’ve come home thinking that when it comes to government policy, it’s much better for farmers there than here.


Rural round-up

07/04/2019

One thing leads to anotherSamantha Tennent:

A Northland farming couple have completed their pathway of progression but still have plenty to do. Samantha Tennent reports.

A farm journey for a Northland couple has been full of ups and downs but one event in particular led them to push themselves to not just move but to forge ahead and buy their own farm.

Don and Kirsten Watson farm on the picturesque Kaipara Harbour milking 260 cows on 112 hectares. They bought the farm in 2017 after spending a month snowbound and without power on their Central Plateau farm at Rangitaiki on the Napier-Taupo highway.

It has been a varied and at times challenging and scary journey but say they wouldn’t change a thing. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after $500,000 crowd funding effort– Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134-hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20 kilometres southeast of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . . 

Farmer confidence lifting but concerns over policy remain – Maja Burry:

Farmer confidence has lifted after three consecutive quarters of decline, but it still remains in negative territory.

Rabobank’s first quarterly Rural Confidence Survey for the year – completed last month – has shown the nation’s net farmer confidence has risen to -9 percent, up from -15 percent recorded in the final quarter of 2018.

The bank’s general manager for country banking, Hayley Gourley said greater optimism among dairy farmers was the major driver of the improved overall confidence reading.

“In the last survey of 2018, we saw 34 percent of dairy farmers expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to worsen and only 13 percent expecting an improvement, however, since then we’ve seen a long run of consecutive jumps in the Global Dairy Trade price index,” Ms Gourley said. . . 

Seasonal labour shortage declared for BOP kiwifruit industry:

Declaration is for 15 April until 27 May 2019.

• As of today, overseas visitors can apply to vary the conditions of their visitor visa to allow up to six weeks of seasonal work in kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) supports the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) declaration of a labour shortage for the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty and the extension of the labour shortage in the Hawkes Bay. The BOP declaration announced today is for the period 15 April until 27 May 2019. . .

Beef + Lamb well placed for the future:

Beef + Lamb NZ has the correct strategies in place to help the sector successfully navigate its way through the next couple of years, says chair Andrew Morrison.

“But it is going to require focus and there will be some hard decisions,” he warned.

“As an organisation, we are now trying to constantly look ahead at the challenges coming, do the research about those challenges and come up with strategies to influence the responses and outcomes to them.”  . .

Self-importing fertiliser is risky business, warns the Fertiliser Quality Council:

The Fertiliser Quality Council of New Zealand (FQC) is urging anyone contemplating importing fertiliser themselves to think again. The organisation, which is responsible for Fertmark, the fertiliser auditing programme that verifies products so users can be certain they know what they are spreading on their pasture, says importing fertiliser for individual on-farm use is fraught with risk.

Anders Crofoot, Chairman of the FQC, explains that the temptation to import fertiliser for private farm use is often driven by cost. However, he warns farmers and growers not to be fooled by ‘cheap’ ticket prices displayed online. . . 

Survey results will detail farmers’ changing attitudes to climate change:

Survey results on how farmers’ understanding of climate change and its impacts have changed over the last decade will be released at the New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference 2019 (NZACCC), in Palmerston North on April 8-9.

The results will also reveal how farmers are now viewing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts in agriculture and give their views on the effective communication of climate change science. . . 


Rural round-up

03/10/2018
Government blamed for pessimism – Neal Wallace:

Growing pessimism among dairy farmers has sent confidence plunging into negative territory for the first time since early 2016. The quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey of 450 farmers reveals confidence in the agricultural economy has fallen from plus 2% in June to minus 3% in September.

Those expecting an improvement in the next 12 months fell from 26% to 20% while those expecting conditions to worsen rose slightly from 23% to 24%. . .

Farmer group aims at land best practice  – Simon Hartley:

A farmer-led initiative covering six Aparima catchments in Southland is looking at ways to improve land management practices to benefit the environment and local communities.

The Aparima Community Engagement (ACE) project, which represents six local catchment groups, has been under way since March this year, and a fortnight ago briefed Environment Minister David Parker on its aims during his visit to the area.

The type of issues being tackled includes identifying best practice around the likes of buffer zones for wintering, and the use of crops and fertiliser. . . 

McDonald’s lauds Maori beef farm  – Hugh Stringleman:

Hapū-owned Whangara Farms, on the East Coast north of Gisborne, has been accredited to the McDonald’s Flagship Farmers programme, the first such appointment in the Southern Hemisphere. Under general manager Richard Scholefield for the past 12 years, the 8500ha group has become the 28th Flagship Farmer for the worldwide restaurant chain and the seventh beef supplier. . .

Hunting lobby wins concessions over tahr cull  – Kate Gudsell, Eric Fryberg:

The powerful hunting lobby has won concessions in the heated fight over the cull of thousands of Himalayan Tahr.

A meeting was held yesterday between Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and hunting groups including the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the Game Animal Council as well as conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, and iwi Ngāi Tahu with the hunting industry emerging confident at the outcome.

The hunting fraternity say Ms Sage has pulled back from positions which the industry had found unacceptable and forced her to re-think plans to cull 10,000 Himalayan Tahr from the Southern Alps.  . .

Seeka warns of possible PSA outbreak in Victorian orchard – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, says it may have found the fruit disease PSA in an orchard it is developing in Australia.

It has notified Agriculture Victoria of unusual bacterial symptoms and is removing suspicious plant material pending further test results. . .

Pāmu releases first Integrated Report – returns to paying a dividend

Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (Landcorp) has released its first truly integrated Annual Report for 2018 today.

Chief Financial Officer Steve McJorrow said the 2018 EBITDAR[1] of $48.5 million, announced on 31 August, was very pleasing, and reflected good milk and red meat returns, along with revaluation of carbon holdings (NZUs).

“We are also pleased to be back to paying our shareholders a dividend, which will be $5 million for the 2017/18 financial year. . .

Dairy Hub farm reserach to be revealed at field day:  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kale versus fodder beet, phosphorous supplementation and buffer widths will be the focus of the Southern dairy hub’s next field day at Makarewa on October 10.

DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said they would be updating those attending about the early results of the studies being carried out on site.

Farm manager Shane Griffin will be talking about the hub farm’s progress and Dr Ross Monaghan, of AgResearch, will discuss results of the nitrogen leaching study.

Dairy apprenticeship programme celebrates first birthday:

Federated Farmers is wishing happy birthday today to the Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy Programme on its first anniversary.

The pilot programme supported by MBIE, the PrimaryITO and Feds, was launched last year with the intention of finding more Kiwis keen to work in the dairy industry on farm, and keen to upskill into a farming career.

After almost a year Feds is proud to say we’ve had 193 employer expressions of interest, and 98 completed farm charters, enabling employers to enter the programme along with 180 eligible apprentice expressions of interest and 62 apprentices in the programme. . .

 

Rural round-up

07/07/2018

Rural health wants tourists’ cash – Neal Wallace:

A rural South Canterbury general practitioner was paid $13 for each of the 150 emergency calls she made in the last year, a pay rate described by the Rural GP Network as a joke.

The network’s chief executive Dalton Kelly said with such low pay rates plus the demands on rural GPs it is understandable rural health professionals are leaving the sector, prompting a call for a portion of the proposed tourist tax to be directed to rural health services.

Kelly said rural GPs and nurses are regularly called to tend to sick and injured tourists and unlike an urban incident, patients cannot be transferred to someone else who is on call. . .

Trading times get challenging – Pam Tipa:

A trade expert has backed up comments by agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who says New Zealand is facing its most challenging time in trade in 30 years.

Petersen told Rural News that the established rules on trade via the World Trade Organisation, particularly for agricultural products, are at risk from the US-China trade war.

While the products being targeted now are not NZ products, the risk of spillover into our products is very high, he says. . . 

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis leave farmer confidence in the balance:

Concerns about the impact of Mycoplasma bovis disease on the country’s agricultural sector have seen New Zealand farmer confidence decline over the past quarter, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While farmer confidence remains at net positive levels, the overall reading dropped to +two per cent in the latest quarter, from +15 per cent in the previous survey. . .

A strong bull-seeking season in south – Nicole Sharp:

Prices are up and bull breeders are happy following a successful selling season.

Bull breeders throughout Southland and Otago have been hosting fellow farmers on farms for sales over the past couple of months.

PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative Callum McDonald said sales came to a conclusion at the end of last month and there was positivity in the air.

”We have seen a great bull-selling season for the South, with high demand for quality bulls“ . . 

Hundreds gather to celebrate 50th anniversary of FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Hundreds of people have celebrated the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s longest-running agricultural contest.

The first FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final was held in Auckland in 1969.

Former winners and finalists were among a 400-strong crowd which gathered in Invercargill last night to mark the milestone.

“It’s amazing. It’s just like a school reunion isn’t it,” said Levin farmer Geoff Kane, 66, who won the national final in 1981. . .

Entire Northland school visits farm on paddock to plate learning journey

A national project is helping a Northland teacher combine her two passions of education and food production.

Natalie Lynch teaches a class of Years 5-8 students at Matakohe School in the Kaipara District.

Last week the small school’s entire roll of 47 pupils visited the farm of Marshall Walton in Whangarei.

“Watching a sheep being shorn, pressing a bale of wool in a manual press, and using the drafting gates was a new experience for everyone,” said Natalie. . . 

Omega lamb project update in third year:

The Omega Lamb Project is now in its third year and well over 100 restaurants in New Zealand and Hong Kong have had Te Mana Lamb on their menus.

The project builds on a decade-long scientific programme and breakthrough research. It found that the right combination of genetics, management and feeding can alter the fat profile of lamb and produce animals that are healthy, while delivering a tastier and healthier product.

Te Mana Lamb is higher in Omega-3 than other lamb available on the market.

Mark Williamson, general manager of the Omega Lamb Project, a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership, the farmer-owned Headwaters and leading food company Alliance Group, said Te Mana Lamb is being praised by chefs for its flavour and consistent eating quality. . . 

Fears for future of Scots beef and lamb production – Colin Ley:

The viability of beef and sheep production in Scotland is being threatened by a Scottish government climate change bill that includes a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren said that will make it virtually impossible for the country’s farmers to produce beef and lamb.

“Moving to net zero GHG emissions would be absolutely devastating for our livestock industry,” he told an industry meeting at the Royal Highland Show.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/12/2017

Oil-infused lucerne chaff a winning feed – Sally Rae:

Difficulty finding quality lucerne chaff has led to a busy enterprise for Waianakarua couple Graeme and Henrietta Purvis.

The couple, who are well known on the rodeo circuit, recently added a New Zealand-first product to their business — chopped lucerne infused with cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

Now, whether it was a winning race-horse fuelled by their lucerne or a pet lamb being reared on it, they were equally delighted to hear success stories.The story began about 20 years ago when Mr Purvis had a sick horse and could only find poor quality chaff to feed it.

“I thought, I could do better than that”, he recalled. . . 

Some vineyards struggling to cope with dry weather – Adriana Weber:

Some vineyards are desperately trying to find enough workers to cope with the workload brought on by the dry spell.

An Otago grape grower and viticulturist, James Dicey, said the hot conditions had meant there had been a huge amount of early growth.

He said that had resulted in the vineyard quickly falling behind in the work normally done at this time of year.

Mr Dicey said the conditions were very rare for so early in the season.

“Relentlessly hot and relentlessly dry. Since the beginning of September, we have effectively, apart from one 20 millimetre rainfall, been bone dry,” he said. . . 

NZ farmer confidence remains at net positive levels overall:

New Zealand farmer confidence remains at net positive levels overall, but has dropped sharply from the record highs recorded in the previous two quarters, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While more farmers expect the rural economy to improve than those expecting it to worsen, the overall reading dropped sharply to a net confidence measure of +13 per cent from +38 per cent last survey.

The survey – completed last month – found the number of farmers expecting the rural economy to improve in the next 12 months had fallen to 29 per cent (down from 46 per cent last quarter), 49 per cent were expecting similar conditions (up from 42 per cent) and the number expecting the rural economy to worsen rose to 16 per cent (up from 8 per cent). . . 

Lynch family:

When it comes to running their dairy and livestock operation Kate and Gerard Lynch are less concerned with ensuring they have the most high tech gadgets and more concerned with getting the basics right, day in, day out.

It’s a commitment the couple share although Kate is the first to admit that some days it’s easier than others. “We’ve tried to instil across the business how important it is to do things well every day, on the days when you’re sloshing through mud in sleeting rain as well as on the nice, sunny days,” she said.

“Agriculture is the same as anywhere, if you are running your own business, every dollar counts so you can’t afford to just let things slide. Whether it’s paying attention to every cow to ensure they’re in peak health, clearing up the shed in the evening or ensuring machinery is serviced on time, the simple things make a big difference.” . . 

Public invited to Lincoln University Dairy Farm for Fonterra Open Gates Day:

The Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) its opening its gates, along with a number of others, on December 10 to show off its environmental management.

It is holding an Open Day as part of the Fonterra Open Gates Day which is highlighting how farmers, along with the rest of New Zealand, care about what is happening with our waterways and the environment. . . 

Fonterra open gate days a missed opportunity to mix with Greenpeace, Safe and other critics – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra and their farmers deserve a pat on the back for organising the open gate days on farms taking place on December 10.

It’s a good initiative and will hopefully be well supported.

The only concern I have is the people who will go are either fellow farmers or those associated with the industry. That’s preaching to the converted.

They are not the people the industry needs to reach. . .

Like it or not Africa’s future lies in GM crops – Karen Batra:

Short-sighted opposition to biotechnology leaves farmers across the continent at the mercy of pests, disease and worse, writes Matt Ridley in The Times:

An even more dangerous foe than Robert Mugabe is stalking Africa. Early last year, a moth caterpillar called the fall armyworm, a native of the Americas, turned up in Nigeria. It has quickly spread across most of Africa. This is fairly terrifying news, threatening to undo some of the unprecedented improvements in African living standards of the past two decades. Many Africans depend on maize for food, and maize is the fall armyworm’s favorite diet.

Fortunately, there is a defense to hand. Bt maize, grown throughout the Americas for many years, is resistant to insects. The initials stand for a bacterium that produces a protein toxic to insects but not to people. Organic farmers have been using the bacterium as a pesticide for more than five decades, but it is expensive. Bt maize has the protein inside the plant, thanks to genetic engineers, who took a gene from the bacterium and put it in the plant. Bt maize has largely saved Brazil’s maize crop from fall armyworms. . . 


Rural round-up

30/06/2017

Rural confidence trends remarkedly similar across sectors – Allan Barber:

The latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey shows the highest level of confidence among all agricultural sectors since the survey started in 2003 which is proof of the remarkable success of New Zealand agriculture and commodity prices. At a time when our dollar is also stronger against almost all, if not all, currencies over the same period, this is a surprising fact that most people would say is at least counterintuitive if not downright impossible.

57% of farmers surveyed now see a positive outlook for the next 12 months, up from 34% in the previous survey, in contrast to only 3% who think things will get worse. A net 41% of sheep and beef farmers see a positive outlook, up from just net 2% in the first 2017 survey, while a net 61% of dairy farmers and 38% of horticulturalists are also bullish. Not surprisingly improving commodity prices are the main reason for this burst in confidence. . . 

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q2 2017: Market Disruption Changing Trade Flows:

The global beef complex has been characterised by a series of market disruptions through Q2, according to the Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q2 2017.

Political upheaval in Brazil, a new trade agreement between the US and China, and proposed bans on slaughter in India: All involve the major bovine-exporting nations of the world and have the potential to cause material shifts in global trade.

According to Blake Holgate, Rabobank Analyst Animal Protein: “While US exports continue to perform strongly (and have now reached record levels), reduced supply from Australia and New Zealand, along with potential shocks from Brazil and India, could see the balance in the beef market shift back to a supply-limited market.”. .

Farmers Feeling Less Stress From Their Banks:

Pressure on farmers appears to be easing a little on the back of an improved farming outlook, according to Federated Farmers’ latest Banking Survey undertaken in May by Research First.

The survey shows that 8.5%of farmers reported coming under ‘undue’ pressure from their bank over the past six months, down from 9.6% in the last survey undertaken in November 2016. . . 

Canada’s policies depress milk prices – Alexa Cook:

Ten global dairy industry organisations, including one from New Zealand, are fighting for Canada to remove milk policies they say are depressing milk prices.

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is part of the group, which includes dairy industry leaders from Argentina, Australia, EU, Mexico and the US.

DCANZ said Canada’s recently-implemented ‘Special Milk Class 7’ policies were facilitating the unfair export of highly subsidised Canadian dairy products onto global dairy markets, and at the same time increasing Canada’s barriers to dairy imports. . . .

Te Araroa trail contributing millions to regional NZ:

Business is booming for cafés, dairies, campsites and other enterprises along the length of New Zealand’s national Te Araroa Trail.

More than 550 people have completed the 3,000km trail over the past year, stopping to re-supply in urban centres and rural communities as they walk from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Te Araroa Trust chair David McGregor said the record number of walkers had contributed an estimated more than $5 million to the economy, with walkers reporting an average spend of between $7,000 and $10,000 throughout their four to five month journey. . . 

War on Weeds gets half million regional boost:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says almost $500,000 extra will be spent on regional projects that target the country’s worst weeds.

“DOC will fund ten regional and district councils to do weed control projects in their communities, especially those that target our annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ weeds – identified as doing the most damage by smothering our natural landscapes and destroying the habitats of our native species,” Ms Barry says.

“The projects focus on weeds such as Old Man’s Beard or Spartina and intensifies efforts to keep them under control or totally eradicate them.” . . 

Nelson – Marlborough scallop fishery temporary closure for 2017 season:

Continued low scallop levels at the top of the South Island have forced a further temporary closure of the Southern Scallop fishery SCA 7, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

The 2017/18 season closure affects scallop fisheries in Golden Bay, Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds. It also includes the neighbouring Port Underwood area. . . 

Wool Market Loses Further Ground:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s CEO, Mr John Dawson reports that today’s market was down due to a combination of slower demand and a slightly stronger New Zealand dollar.

South Island price levels have now come more into line with their North Island counterparts.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies compared to the last sale on the 22nd June was marginally stronger by 0.24 percent. . . 


Rural round-up

28/06/2017

NZ Farmer Confidence at Record High – Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey:

• Net rural confidence has jumped up in the second rural confidence survey of 2017 and is now at the highest level recorded since the survey commenced in early 2003.

• Farmers across all agricultural sectors were more positive about the outlook for the agricultural economy with the majority citing improved commodity prices as a key reason for increased optimism.

• The number of farmers expecting their own business performance to improve was also up in comparison with the last survey with over half of farmers expecting an improvement in the coming 12 months. . . 

Cannabis more often detected in workers than any other drug – Maureen Bishop:

Cannabis is still the most common drug ”by a country mile” found when staff are tested, farmers attending a workshop in Ashburton last week heard.

Therese Gibbens, general manager of the Canterbury West Coast area for The Drug Detection Agency, said 80% of positive drug results from tests carried out by the company in Canterbury detected cannabis.

This was followed by opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamine.

She had tips for farmers about policies, detection and managing the risks of staff affected by drugs or alcohol, backed up by statistics and experience. . . 

McClay says time is right for trade deal with four amigos:

Trade Minister Todd McClay says he believes the time is right to launch trade talks with Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia as part of the Government’s push for better access in Latin America.

Mr McClay leaves tomorrow to attend the Pacific Alliance Leaders Summit where a trade deal will be top of his agenda.

“We’ve been talking to the four Pacific Alliance countries about better access for Kiwi exporters for the last two years. With direct flights to South America there is increasing opportunity for New Zealanders to do more in these growing markets,” Mr McClay says. . . 

High tech approach to improve safety on SH1 at Moeraki Boulders:

Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe welcomes a new high tech warning system, which will help to improve road safety, has been installed on State Highway 1 in the Waitaki District.

The new Rural Intersection Active Warning System at the turnoff to Moeraki Boulders, off State Highway 1, is now operational and the variable speed limit is now legally enforceable.

“The new warning system is able to detect vehicles approaching the right turning bay at Moeraki Boulders Road and vehicles waiting to turn back on to the highway, and automatically adjusts the speed limit in the area to 70km/h to allow the approaching car to merge safely with oncoming traffic,” says Mr Macindoe. 

The 70km/h variable speed limit will apply 170 metres either side of the SH1/Moeraki Boulders Road. . . 

Be ready for the calving season:


MPI’s Penny Timmer-Arends has attended many field days and workshops to discuss the new bobby calf regulations with those affected across the supply chain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is asking farmers to be ready for new bobby calf regulations coming in this season.

“The new requirements for bobby calf shelter and loading come in to play on 1 August and we want to make sure everyone is well aware and prepared,” says Paul Dansted, MPI’s Director Animal and Animal Products.

“Calves need to be provided with shelter that keeps them warm and dry, and loading facilities that allow them to walk onto trucks.” . . 

Tegel delivers continued growth with record volumes, revenues and profit:

New Zealand’s largest poultry producer, Tegel Group Holdings Limited , today reported its FY2017 results for the 53 weeks ended 30 April 2017. The Company reported Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) of $34.2 million. This was $22.9 million higher than the prior year mainly as a result of a change in capital structure following listing. Underlying EBITDA was $75.6 million, 0.8% ahead of FY2016. Both NPAT and underlying EBITDA were within the Company’s revised guidance range issued in December 2016. . . 

PCE receives Forest & Bird ‘Old Blue’ environmental award:

Forest & Bird has awarded the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment an ‘Old Blue’ for her significant contribution to New Zealand’s environment and wildlife.

“Over ten years, Dr Jan Wright’s insightful reports have illuminated complex environmental subjects and in many cases fundamentally improved public appreciation of those issues,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague. . . 

Kiwis Eating Less Red Meat – Research:

More than half of Kiwis say they are eating less meat, and a quarter expect to be mostly meat-free by 2025, as they focus on their health and budget according to the results of a new survey.

It seems the days of a nightly meal of meat and two veg may soon be behind us too, with one in five of those surveyed (21%) saying they choose to have a meat-free dinner for more than half of the week. . . 


Rural round-up

29/06/2016

Out of town and out of touch:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Hugh Ritchie said today if Greenpeace acutally understood the big environmental issues facing New Zealand, such as climate change, it wouldn’t need to interfere in a local water storage project like Ruataniwha.

“Hawke’s Bay people can decide what’s best for their community without the influence of this misguided and uninformed green lobby. These out-of-town protesters need to realize robust public process has been followed and the scheme has been intensely scrutinized.

“Ruataniwha has been through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) process. Individuals and groups have had ample opportunity to voice concerns and these have been accessed for merit. This same EPA process saw an end to Wellington Basin Reserve’s proposed flyover. The EPA delivers robust, objective decisions on environmental matters, and ensures compliance with rules. Its decision must be respected. . . 

Debbie Hewitt can vote on Ruataniwha dam despite ‘pecuniary interest’ – Simon Hendery:

The auditor-general has ruled a Hawke’s Bay regional councillor can continue voting on the Ruataniwha dam, despite finding she is likely to have a pecuniary interest in decisions the council makes about the project.

Debbie Hewitt represents Central Hawke’s Bay, the area where the council is planning to build the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme.

Through a family trust, she has an ownership interest in 19 hectares of land in an area that would be irrigated by the scheme. The Office of the Auditor-General said it was “uncertain” how much she would gain financially if the scheme went ahead, but it believed her interest in it was greater than that of the general public. . . .

If you buy health and safety advice, make sure it’s the right advice:

Good health and safety practice is not something you can just buy off the shelf, and farmers need to build health and safety into everyday activity on farm.

WorkSafe’s Agriculture Programme Manager, Al McCone, says while many farmers will want to get consultants in to give them expert advice, there is no single product or document that is a silver bullet for farm safety.

Farmers should only employ competent and qualified professional health and safety advisors. “When selecting a new contractor or buying stock, farmers do their homework,” says Mr McCone. “They shop around, look online, ask other farmers and make a decision based on sound information. The same should apply to buying health and safety advice and resources. . . 

Big bounce in farmer confidence – Rabobank: Rural Confidence Survey

Results at a Glance

 Overall farmer confidence has improved considerably from the previous quarter

 Farmers’ expectations for their own business performance also rose, with big lifts recorded among dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers

 Horticulturalists’ expectations for their own businesses remain at elevated levels with more than half surveyed expecting their farm business performance to improve in the next 12 months

 Investment intentions were at their highest level in more than a year, with one quarter of survey participants expecting to increase their farm business investment in the coming year . . 

Spring Sheep Milk Company Finalist in World Dairy Innovation Awards:

 New Zealand company, within its first year of operation, has been named as a finalist in two categories in theWorld Dairy Innovation Awards; Best Ice Cream or Frozen Yoghurt and Best Dairy Packaging Design.

Spring Sheep Milk Co is the only fully New Zealand owned large scale sheep dairy operation and the attraction for forming the company was to create a model to bring the goodness of New Zealand sheep milk products to the world says Chief Executive Officer Scottie Chapman

“Consumers are looking for quality alternatives to traditional dairy and sheep milk offers a premium alternative thanks to its sensational taste. It is richer and creamier than traditional cows milk. Sheep milk has been used in Europe for centuries as a gastronomic indulgence, renowned for quality cheeses and is now a rapidly growing category worldwide.” . . 

Companies Office confirms no evidence that Silver Fern Farms’ board acted in anything other than good faith and in best interests of the company:

• Companies Office completes consideration of complaint from Rt Hon Peters

• Has “not identified any evidence of a breach of s 138A of the Companies Act 1993”

• Follows announcement from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) confirming FMA does “not have any reason to believe the [Notice of Meeting and Shareholder] Information Pack was misleading or deceptive.” . . 

Murray Goulburn announces 2017 farmgate milk price, sees only ‘modest’ recovery – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Murray Goulburn Cooperative, Australia’s dominant milk processor, announced its forecast farmgate milk price for the coming year, saying it expects only a modest recovery in prices in the second half of the year.

The company forecast a farmgate milk price of A$4.80 per kilogram of milk solids for the season ending June 30, 2017, compared with an expected payment of between A$4.75 to A$5.00 in the current year. It announced a 2017 net opening farmgate milk price of A$4.31/kgMS after repayment of a 14 Australian cents/kgMS milk supply support package. . . 

Traditional crop knowledge preserved in Tongan  book :

The author of a new book documenting traditional methods of growing yam says the book has preserved indigenous crop planting knowledge that’s valuable for Pacific farmers.

The book ‘Tokanga ko e Mo’ui’anga’ has been published in the Tongan language and was launched in Auckland by author Sione Tu’itahi.

Mr Tu’itahi based the book on the experience of the late Kiteau Tatafu, an award-winning farmer in Tonga. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/04/2015

Big dump culmination of years of worry – David Bruce:

A frustrated North Otago farmer drove 120km on Monday to dump a load of excrement at the Otago Regional Council’s doorstep in Dunedin. David Bruce talks to him about why he did it.

Five Forks dairy farmer Robert Borst says he is at a loss about where to go from here.

He says he faces losing everything he has worked for in an industry he has wanted to be in since he was 15.

He left school and started at the bottom in dairying, shifted from Taranaki to the Waitaki Plains in 1992 then, from 1997, he and wife Sylvia started to build up what are now three dairy farms at Five Forks.

Changes in a water plan by the Otago Regional Council setting new limits on discharges from his farms has put everything in jeopardy, he believes. . .

Positive agriculture Omarama winner – Sally Rae:

Omarama farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil want to help highlight the positive side of agriculture.

Mr and Mrs Subtil were named the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.

The couple farm Omarama Station, a property of nearly 12,000ha, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919. . .

Farmer confidence grows – Dene Mackenzie and Sally Rae:

There is a sense of relief as two surveys show regional economic confidence rose in the three months ended March.

Farmer confidence has taken a ”significant jump” in the first quarterly Rabobank rural confidence for the year. The survey, completed earlier this month, was released the same day as Fonterra dropped its dividend estimate range by 5c to between 20c and 30c to the disappointment of farmers.

The Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey showed rural regions and smaller centres generally showing the biggest gains. Confidence in the main centres was mixed. . .

Can science fix the dairy debate – Kevin Ikin:

The debate continues on whether there should be a moratorium on further dairy farm development.

The Green Party and the Fish and Game organisation are keen on the concept, which they say should be given serious consideration while the impact of intensive farming on the environment is properly assessed.

The issue also came up at a water management forum in Geraldine, South Canterbury, last week.

One of the speakers, Morgan Foundation economist Geoff Simmons said if the Government was serious about water quality then it had to consider a moratorium on further dairy farm conversions.

“Actually, if you are maintaining or improving the water quality, how can you do that when you are still doing conversions? . .

Fonterra’s disappointing performance – Allan Barber:

Fonterra’s interim result announcement contains confirmation of the farmgate milk price forecast of $4.70, but a reduction in the added value dividend.

The steady milk payout forecast was anticipated, although Global Dairy Trade auction results have so far failed to achieve the US$3,500 per tonne average which is estimated to be the minimum needed to underpin the payout. The higher volume being released for auction GDT and likely milk production by competitors such as American and European farmers may actually increase the risk of underachieving the forecast end of year payout. . .

Fonterra says it’s holding its own in Canterbury as farmer suppliers look to new processors – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, New Zealand’s largest dairy processor, says it’s holding its own in the dairy-intensive Canterbury region, despite reports some of its 10,600 farmers shareholders are lining up to supply milk to its competitors in the wake of its weak interim results last week.

Farmers were disappointed with the half-year results, which included a 16 per cent drop in profit to $183 million and a trimming of the forecast dividend payout for the year by 5 cents to a range of between 20 cents and 30 cents. Faced with a low forecast payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season compared to a record $8.40 kg/MS last season, farmers had been expecting a fatter rather than skinnier dividend from its value-added activities. . .

Search on for 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year:

A nationwide search begins this week for young men and women who exemplify the leadership qualities that have earned New Zealand’s primary products the trust of consumers all over the world.

Starting this April, young horticultural leaders from every corner of New Zealand will compete in six sector competitions to qualify as a finalist in the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’.

2014 overall winner, Northland orchardist and horticultural business owner, Patrick Malley, believes that despite the ups and downs the primary sector has faced in recent times, New Zealand’s value as a leading producer of primary products comes from the high levels of trust this country’s products enjoy overseas. . .


Rural round-up

22/12/2014

Two exciting years in a row – Allan Barber:

2014 and 2015 promise to be two of the most exciting years the red meat industry has seen for a long time and for a change the news is not all bad. There are some clouds around, but also silver linings like better beef and lamb prices, improved profitability and the possibility of positive developments in the industry’s structure.

At long last, after a slow start, there are plenty of signs the industry as a whole has recognised the need for change to address the main challenges of inadequate prices, declining sheep and beef numbers and excess capacity which have inexorably brought about land use conversions to more profitable activities. . .

  –  Allan Barber:

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey conducted in November found confidence among sheep and beef farmers had risen from just under 50% to 75% since the previous survey the previous quarter. However the overall confidence level remained low because of pessimism among dairy farmers, although this was slightly better than the two year low in the previous survey.

Sheep and beef farmer confidence is now on a par with dairy farmers’ confidence about their outlook and consistent with the situation two years ago. Major reasons for the turnaround are not difficult to fathom, but apart from the contrasting price trend for the respective products, half the farmers surveyed were optimistic about the outlook for global red meat demand.

The relative investment intentions of the two sectors also bore out the levels of optimism with 41% of sheep and beef farmers intending to invest more in their farms compared with just 18% of dairy farmers. . .

Fiordland rangers prepare for stoat plague – Dave Goosselink :

Rangers in Fiordland National Park are preparing for a major stoat plague, which will threaten one of our most endangered birds.

There are only around 260 takahe left, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is doing its best to prevent any of them from becoming a Christmas dinner.

A remote part of the Murchison Mountains is home to the last wild population of takahe. The critically endangered native birds face a fresh wave of predators this summer due to bumper seed production in beech forests. . .

Tradition ties agents to job – Alan Williams:

There has been a raft of changes in the livestock agency industry in the more than 50 years Fred Fowler and John Honeybone have been working in Canterbury saleyards but one feature stays the same.

They’re both out there in the sprawling Canterbury Park facility wearing a tie.

“That’s the dress code,” Honeybone says.

“It’s good for discipline, specially for the young fellas.”

Fowler agrees. 

“If you’re standing in front of the public then you wear a tie.” . . .

The people behind the scene – Sally Millar:

As the year draws to a close, I would like to reflect on the year from a regional policy perspective. As Federated Farmers Policy Advisor my role is to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure they are able to farm without resource management policies and plans unduly impacting on their farm businesses.

With an ever changing regulatory climate, compliance can make farming tricky at times. We consider that most farming activities should be permitted, with appropriate standards that are essentially good farming practice and should be able to be complied with, with minimum fuss.  There are however areas where farmers will need a resource consent such as for building a bridge, discharging effluent, or getting a water consent for dairy shed wash-down.  This can be a confusing and complicated process.

Where resource consent is required, Federated Farmers Policy works to ensure the controls are appropriate, fair and achievable, without undue cost to the farmer.   This means if we do our job well much of what we achieve will go largely unnoticed. So I don’t necessarily see it as a negative if members are unsure of what I really do.  . .

Farmers face risk of dam-dry summer:

Low reserves of water in Canterbury have farmers and irrigation companies concerned ahead of what is threatening to be a dry summer.

The  Opuha Dam in south Canterbury is half empty – when, by now, it is usually more than 90 percent full and ready to keep pastures green through the summer.

Fish and Game said there had been an over-allocation of available water, which affected rivers and their ecosystems and needed to be addressed.

While the dam supplied water for irrigation, its main purpose was to stop the Opuha River from running dry. A dry spring and a lack of snow melt meant the dam had just over half the water it should have at this time of year. . .

Fonterra Welcomes New Managing Director International Farming:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is pleased to welcome new Managing Director International Farming Alan van der Nagel to the business.

Mr van der Nagel reports directly to Chief Executive Theo Spierings, and replaces Henk Bles who has served as Interim Managing Director since April. Mr Bles is staying on in an advisory role for up to six months, ensuring a smooth leadership transition.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr van der Nagel had a considerable level of executive experience in internationally integrated dairy companies in emerging markets, and an impressive track record of driving operational excellence, working with multi-cultural teams, and managing large-scale international joint ventures. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

25/03/2014

Farmer confidence slips, but horticulture remains buoyant:

Results at a Glance
• New Zealand farmer confidence has edged lower this quarter.
• Less than half of farmers now think conditions will improve in the next 12 months.
• Horticulture producers are more optimistic than others, driven by a recovery in the kiwifruit industry and stronger prices.
• Investment intentions are currently stable, but may be impacted by the recent rise in the Official Cash Rate.
• New survey data shows a third of New Zealand farmers struggling to attract/retain labour.

New Zealand farmer sentiment has eased from last year’s highs, though remains at robust levels, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Sentiment among horticulture producers is stronger than in the broader farming community likely due to a recovery in the kiwifruit industry following the PSA outbreak and stronger prices. . .

Meat plants extend hours to meet demand – Rob Tipa:

Meat processing plants around the country have stepped up production and most plants are working full weeks and extended hours to meet market commitments.

The processing season started well with the national lamb kill hitting 4.6 million by the end of the December quarter, up 4 per cent on the previous year.

However, a cold, wet January in parts of the country meant lambs were slow to finish and the cumulative lamb kill for four months to the end of January was 6.9 million, down 5.8 per cent on the 7.3m lambs processed for the same period in 2012-13. . .

Trial site takes the biscuit – Tim Cronshaw:

A mixed picture has emerged of grain yields for autumn sown crops grown for research at Canterbury trial sites by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

Autumn sown feed wheat yields of 10.5 tonnes a hectare this season are off the pace of the four-year average of 11.1t/ha.

However, some trial sites have performed better with feed and biscuit wheat yields above the long- term average at a dryland Chertsey site and at a dryland St Andrews site.

Research manager Rob Craigie said disease pressure appeared to have influenced yields for autumn- sown grain crops, but this was not widespread among the six Canterbury trial sites.

“We are back, but it’s kind of a mixed picture because some sites the yields have been good,” Craigie said. . .

Raw milk market revives faith in nutritious food – Lyn Webster:

I recently decided to advertise raw milk to gauge if there was any demand for the product locally.

I was pleasantly surprised when word quickly spread and I got a few phone calls from a tiny amount of advertising in the classifieds and on a Facebook local information site.

It was great to meet the people who bought the milk. In fact, they all became return customers, buying about 4 litres a week. I was struck by how happy and enthusiastic they were about its taste compared with the seemingly watered- down version you buy at the supermarket. Some of them even travelled significant distances to source my raw milk.

While some dairy farmers have invested in raw milk dispensing machines that automatically fill glass bottles and allow the customer to pay with eftpos, I kept it personal. . .

Speak Meat 2014: Helping government officials better understand the sheep and beef industry:

A joint industry initiative is doing its part to support a more confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

There is a small and often unheralded group of officials working hard to make sure New Zealand’s meat products can get into our export markets. It’s an important job, especially when you consider that more than 80 per cent of our beef and more than 90 per cent of our sheepmeat is exported.

It’s not glamorous work. It often involves technical and complex concepts. But it’s work that helps to ensure a smooth trade in meat products to the broadest possible range of markets.

The New Zealand officials doing that work were the focus of the second edition of the Speak Meat initiative, run jointly by B+LNZ and the Meat Industry Association in late February. The more they understand what actually happens on farms and in meat plants, the better they can work for us in keeping export markets open for our products. . . .

Cheers to that – 40 years of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:

It’s hard to separate New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc these days, but Matua was the first to put them together, planting the first New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc vines in 1969, producing their first bottle in 1974. This year marks the 40th anniversary of not only Matua Sauvignon Blanc but also Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand.

Matua began with a vision shared by Bill and Ross Spence – to revolutionise the New Zealand wine industry by making wines with the best fruit from the best vineyards. A philosophy that still stands today and has earned them international recognition for their pioneering work.

Today, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has taken the world by storm with over $1.2 billion dollars in export sales* and a leading position in both the UK, Australia and USA Sauvignon Blanc categories. Matua sources grapes and produces wines of exceptional quality from all over New Zealand, with wineries in both Auckland and Marlborough. . .

Deutz sparkles after trophy win at Easter Show Wine Awards:

Deutz Marlborough Cuvée is celebrating a Trophy win after Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 2009 was awarded the Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy at the Easter Show Wine Awards 2014 Dinner, held at ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on Saturday 22nd March.

A fitting way to mark the 21st anniversary for Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs, the award-winning 2009 vintage was chosen as the very best in its category by Chair of Judges and renowned Australian wine Judge Mike DeGaris, together with a panel of New Zealand’s leading wine judges.

This recent trophy win for the 2009 vintage follows on nicely from the previous 2008 vintage of Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs which was also awarded the Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy at the 2013 show. . .

Giesen Wines win Easter Show champion trophy in first attempt at Syrah:

Giesen Wines has tasted success in its first attempt at the Syrah varietal, winning the SkyCity Trophy Champion Syrah at the coveted Easter Wine Show 2014.

The Brothers Marlborough Syrah 2011 is the first Syrah that Giesen Wines has produced during its 30-year history. The winery also won gold for The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay 2011.

“Syrah can be a very difficult varietal to master, but it’s a very versatile grape and can do well in warm and cooler climates. Viticulture is the key,” Marcel Giesen said.

“While the Marlborough region is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, we’ve always believed it has the potential to produce world class wines from other varietals and this is certainly being borne out.” . . .

Marlborough’s Versatility Shines:

Marlborough wines across eight varieties took out trophies at the weekend’s Easter Show Wine Awards.

On top of that, a Marlborough wine was awarded Champion Wine of the Show and a Marlborough winemaker was judged top in his field.

It was a big night for Villa Maria, with their Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay 2012 winning the Chardonnay trophy, plus Champion Wine of the Show. The man behind making that wine, George Geris was named Winemaker of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

27/12/2013

Sustainably supplying native beech – Simon Hartley:

New Zealand’s largest supplier of Southland beech for the residential and commercial construction market is seeing increasing acceptance of the use of the native timber by architects.

While architects and homeowners may have been showing reluctance in using some native species, Southland beech is harvested by Lindsay and Dixon under a Ministry of Primary Industries sustainable management plan and carries independent certification from the Forestry Stewardship Council.

The fine-grained medium-density hardwood has featured recently in finishings in the Supreme Court building in Wellington, Air New Zealand’s Koru lounge in Christchurch and Auckland’s Novotel Hotel.

Tuatapere-based sawmiller Lindsay and Dixon, in western Southland, is a Southland beech supplier certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. . .

Hooked on meat: there’s no easy way to end the global habit – Michael Parker,

Raising livestock accounts for the largest single land-use on Earth. Cattle, sheep and goats, pigs and poultry occupy around 30% of the planet’s land area not covered in ice, generate 40% of the world’s agricultural GDP, provide livelihoods for 1.3 billion people, and nourishment for 800m people who would otherwise go without.

Despite this massive environmental, economic and social impact on the world, it is not a thoroughly studied industry. The results of a four-year livestock study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compiles worldwide data that reveal the important role of livestock. While the study lays out the industry’s considerable greenhouse gas emissions, it also shows that demands to reduce numbers and meat consumption will come with unwanted consequences. . .

Venture Southland considers oat push – Allison Rudd:

Economic development organisation Venture Southland hopes to know soon whether it has been able to attract external funding for an ambitious project to develop a high-value oat production and food processing industry in the province.

The project could eventually include establishment of an oat milk plant. . .

Rural Australians are missing out on affordable fresh food

Would you pay A$9 for six mushrooms in inner-city Melbourne? Or A$4.50 for one small piece of broccoli or cauliflower in Sydney?

Probably not – but this is what rural Australians are being asked to fork out for their fresh produce.

Several studies in Australia have highlighted the disparity in the cost of healthy food between urban and rural areas in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. . .

Farmer confidence up; still gulf: survey – Sally Rae:

New Zealand farmer confidence has continued to edge higher, but the gulf between dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers in terms of self-assessed viability continues, the latest Rabobank rural confidence survey shows.

The final survey for the year showed confidence slightly up on the already high levels of last quarter.

The most significant gain was among horticultural producers, encouraged by an increase in prices, underpinned by strong global demand in key export markets.

Only 5% of farmers had a negative outlook for the year ahead, down 1% on the last quarter. . . .

Year in review – February – Rebecca Harper:

The dung beetle debate started with scientists and health experts raising concerns about health risks if the beetles were released in the country. Cue spirited debate about the merits of dung beetles, whether they posed a risk to human health and whether they had already been released years ago anyway.

The headline “Parched paddocks and pitiful prices” pretty well summed up the sentiment among sheep farmers with little rain, a depressed store lamb market, devalued breeding ewes and the prime lamb schedule plummeting. . .


Farmer confidence at 5-year high

07/11/2013

There’s an air of optimism in rural communities and that’s been confirmed by a Rabobank survey:

Confidence among New Zealand farmers is at its highest level in five years,
buoyed by strong dairy prices and an improving outlook in the red meat sector.

The latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey – completed late last month – has showed New Zealand farmers are increasingly optimistic about the outlook for both their own enterprises and the overall agricultural sector.

After registering a large rally last quarter, confidence in the overall rural economy remained at high levels, with 54 per cent of farmers expecting conditions to improve over the next 12 months (the same as last survey) and only six per cent expecting them to worsen (down from eight per cent).

Farmers’ expectations of their own businesses had also climbed, with 57 per cent expecting their farm business performance to improve over the coming year (up from 55 per cent previously) and only five per cent expecting it to deteriorate (compared with 10 per cent last survey).

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said while spring was typically the time farmer confidence was at its highest, the current favourable climatic conditions, combined with improving product returns across most agricultural sectors, had increased confidence even further this year.

Mr Russell said dairy farmer confidence had remained at similar elevated levels seen in the previous survey, in the wake of a record milk price forecast for the current season (at NZD 8.30/kgMS) and generally very good spring conditions lifting milk production.

“Dairy farmers are reporting the same high levels of confidence we have been seeing in the sector since the middle of the year, with their optimism being driven particularly by high commodity prices, good overseas markets and the current milk price forecast, “ he said.

Mr Russell noted that while dairy farmer confidence was very high, there was likelihood that dairy commodities prices would ease from record high levels into 2014. “And this is something Rabobank believes should be factored into producers’ planning and budgets for next season,” he said.

For sheep and beef farmers, more than half (56 per cent) now reported they were expecting the agricultural economy to improve in the next 12 months, up from 52 per cent with that expectation previously.

The number of sheep and beef farmers expecting their own farm business performance to improve also increased, to nearly half (49 per cent), climbing from 45 per cent.

Mr Russell said improving commodity prices were buoying the red meat sector, with lower stock numbers – particularly less availability of lambs – following last summer’s drought contributing to the positive outlook for commodity prices among farmers.

“At the start of the new processing season, farmgate prices are two to three per cent ahead of the prior year for lamb,” he said.

The Rabobank survey showed New Zealand farmers’ investment intentions remained strong, with 94 per cent of those surveyed expecting to increase or maintain the level of investment in their farm businesses (compared with 92 per cent in the previous survey).

“Sheep and beef farmers’ investment intentions have shown the greatest improvement,” Mr Russell said. “A total of 95 per cent of farmers in this sector reported they intended to maintain or increase investment in their businesses. This was up from 91 per cent last survey and from more than 83 per cent 12 months ago.”

In line with the overall high confidence levels, farm viability was also up – with 68 per cent of farmers considering their business viable or easily viable. This was an increase from 60 per cent in the previous survey.

“Importantly, sheep and beef farmers’ assessment of their own viability has increased to 54 per cent (up from 48 per cent previously), pushing back into net positive territory for the first time in 2013,” Mr Russell said.

Any dairy farmers who aren’t confident now almost certainly have problems of their own making.

It’s not often good production and a high payout happen at the same time, but it is this season.

The outlook isn’t as rosy for sheep and beef farmers but it is still positive.

This is very good for the rural sector, it’s good for the wider economy where at last employment is growing and unemployment is falling.

Latest labour market data shows continuing growth in employment and decrease in unemployment as the economy strengthens, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

Today’s Household Labour Force Survey shows employment was up by 1.2 per cent – 27,000 people – in the September quarter and 2.4 per cent in the year to September – 53,000 people.

The unemployment rate fell from 6.4 per cent in the previous quarter to 6.2 per cent.

“While unemployment is still higher than we would like, it has declined from 7.2 per cent a year ago, and the overall trend is of an improving labour market as the economy picks up. The Government is working across a number of fronts to help bring the rate down further,” Mr Joyce says.

“The economy grew at around 2.5 per cent in the year to June 2013, one of the highest rates in the OECD.

“Our participation rate grew to 68.6 per cent, up 0.5 percentage points, and remains significantly higher than Australia’s at 65 per cent.”

Wages continue to rise faster than inflation. Average weekly earnings rose 2.9

per cent in the last year, compared to inflation of 1.4 per cent.

The NEET rate for 15 – 24 year olds – youth not in employment, education or training – continued to fall, to 11.4 per cent over the quarter, the lowest since December 2008. The NEET rate for 20 – 24 year olds fell by 1.8 to 14.1 per cent.

“Momentum in the New Zealand economy is continuing to grow, with September’s trade data confirming the recovery from last summer’s drought is underway, along with the highest increase in permanent and long-term migration in over a decade,” Mr Joyce says.

Business confidence rose to 14 year highs in September’s Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion and in October’s ANZ Business Outlook.The recent Grant Thorndon International Business Report puts New Zealand sixth out of 44 economies in terms of business confidence. . .

These two surveys add another couple of stones to the foundation of good news which is helping to build that brighter future we were promised.

In #gigatownoamaru confidence is building too as the town seeks to become the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town.


Rural round-up

25/04/2013

Concerns For Sheep and Beef Farmer Viability Show In
rural Confidence Survey:

Results at a Glance

• Half of sheep and beef farmers are concerned about their business viability

• Dairy farmers are the most optimistic of the sectors, driving some improvement in overall rural confidence

• One in three farmers on the North Island say their farm is severely impacted by drought

Half of New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers are worried about their ongoing viability as the impact of drought and a sharp fall in lamb prices over the past year take their toll, the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has showed. . .

Fonterra Announces Management Changes:

Fonterra Co-operative Limited announced today senior management changes in its Asia Pacific Middle East Africa (APMEA) business unit, including the departure of the existing Managing Director APMEA and the appointment of a new Managing Director for Australia.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said a new leadership team had now been confirmed for APMEA, effective June 1. It included a new Managing Director Australia, Judith Swales, who joins Fonterra after leading Heinz across Australasia and before that the Goodyear Dunlop Business in Australia.

“Judith has considerable experience in delivering business turnarounds across a number of industry sectors, with a great understanding of consumer, customer and operations which will be critical in our Australian business,” said Mr Spierings. . .

Farmers to learn about environmental best practice:

Federated Farmers is proudly promoting regional Field Days for the Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award Winners. Details of these upcoming Field Days are below.

“What Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award Winners showcase, is how farmers are responsibly using the environment,” says Bruce Wills Federated Farmers President.

“While they say you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, that saying does not hold with agriculture. Farmers devour information and use field days to learn better ways of doing things.

“In March, I was among 200 farmers at the Smedley Station Field Day in Hawke’s Bay. This gives you an idea as to how popular these Ballance Farm Environment Award Supreme Winner Field Days are. . .

Dairy Awards Drives Progress In Industry:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is succeeding in its goal of recognising excellence among farmers as they progress in the dairy industry.
 
Three of the 11 finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition are past entrants and regional winners in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year contest.
 
National convenor Chris Keeping says it is an exciting development in the awards programme, which has run in its current format since 2006 when the sharemilker/equity farmer, farm manager and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions were brought together. . .

New Zealand Seafood Industry Welcomes the National Plan of Action – Seabird:

The New Zealand seafood industry welcomes the new National Plan of Action – Seabirds launched today by the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries has involved many groups including industry and environmental NGOs, in developing the National Plan of Action. This collaborative approach has led to common-sense processes that will deliver results,” says Tim Pankhurst, Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand.

“New Zealand is geographically a global centre for seabirds and the New Zealand industry is committed to maintaining its role as world leader in reducing interactions between seabirds and fishing. . .

Countdown to the Ultimate Rural Challenge:


The Grand Final of the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest is just weeks away and the countdown is on. Tickets are still available for the different events, visit www.youngfarmers.co.nz for more details.

The Grand Final will take place between 16-18 May in Auckland at the Kumeu Showgrounds and SKYCITY, and there is sure to be something entertaining for all ages and interests.

The series of events kick off at 4.00pm, Thursday 16 May, with the Official Opening at Aotea Square. Here, spectators will be entertained with the first Head-to-Head Challenge and introduced to the seven Grand Finalists: Ian Douglas of Northern, Tim Van de Molen of Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Cam Brown of Taranaki/Manawatu, Aaron Passey of East Coast, Reuben Carter of Tasman, Matthew Bell of Aorangi, and Dean Rabbidge of Otago/Southland. . .

Karaka Million Payments Due Tuesday:

Payments for New Zealand Bloodstock’s $1 million Karaka Million– New Zealand’s richest race – are due next Tuesday 30 April.

Horses that were entered by the Entry Deadline of Wednesday 6 March have until 5pm (NZ time) on Tuesday 30 April to pay the Entry Fee of $1,750 + GST per nominated yearling in accordance with the Conditions of Entry.

Please note that any party who has not paid the nomination fee(s) by the deadline will remain liable for the entry fee but their yearling(s) will no longer be eligible for the Karaka Million 2YO or Karaka 3YO Mile. . .


Headwinds expected, will abate

10/08/2012

Rabobank’s Rural Confidence Survey shows the global economy continues to create headwinds for farmers.

The latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown that while New Zealand farmers remain more optimistic about the performance of their own farm businesses relative to the wider agricultural economy, both confidence indicators fell this quarter. Both indicators are now in negative territory, showing that more New Zealand farmers expect conditions to worsen, rather than improve. . .

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the further fall in confidence reflects the uncertain global economic environment that New Zealand farmers are operating in, which has placed downward pressure on commodity prices.

“For many, coming out of a season where the planets aligned in terms of climatic conditions and commodity prices, many are pragmatic in their outlook that these conditions are unlikely to be repeated. Farmers have also seen commodity prices come back off their more recent highs, while the New Zealand dollar has remained very strong,” he said.

After a couple of years of high prices there’s no surprise in predictions of softening prices, particularly when the global economy is still depressed.

New Zealand and Australia are generally doing better than our traditional trading partners and we can be grateful for the efforts put into opening trade opportunities in Asia. Growing demand there will off-set some of the fall in demand from Europe and the USA.

Farmers are expecting lower prices this season but the longer term outlook is still good. The growth in the world population and growing demand for protein from developing markets should both ensure good markets for our produce.


Rural Confidence Down but Business Intentions Robust

05/05/2009

Farmers’ concerns about  world commodity prices contributed to an increase in those expecting the agricultural economy to worsen in the next 12 months.

The latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey shows 33% of farmers expect the agricultural economy to deteriorate in the next year, up from 29% who had a gloomy outlook in November last year.

The number of farmers expecting stability dropped from 44% to 38% but there was a slight increase in those expecting an improvement, 27% compared with 26% in the previous survey.

Sheep and Beef farmers’ outlook had improved and dairy confidence had stabilised.

Rabobank general manager Rural New Zealand Ben Russell said . . . “Although dairy farmer confidence remains at subdued levels on a net basis, the over-riding message coming from dairy producers appears to be one of anticipated volatility.”

The survey was taken before last week’s announcement from Fonterra of a 10 cent increase in the forecast payout.

The last two on-line auctions for Fonterra’s globalDairyTrade have shown a slight improvement in price, the next one is scheduled for tonight.

Sheep and beef farmers were more confident with 74% expecting conditions to improve or stay the same compared with 70% in the previous survey and only 23% expecting a deterioration in the agricultural economy.

The improvement is attributed to a lower New Zealand dollar and decreased supply here and in competing markets

Uncertainty about commodity prices was the factor cited most by those who expect conditions to deteriorate and improve.

“It appears to be a case of a glass half full or glass half empty whent it comes to commodity prices, Mr Russell said. “Of those farmers expecting conditions to worsen, 47% nominated falling commodity prices as a concern. But for those anticipating the agricultural economy to improve, 44% cited rising commodity prices as a reason.”

Farmers were more optimistic about their own businesses than about the rural economy in general.

Of those surveyed, 34% expected their farm businesses to perform better in the next 12 months, while just 23% expected their own business performance to worsen.

The difference was most marked in sheep and beef and mixed farmers with 23% expecting the rural economy to worsen but only eight percent predicting things to get worse on their own farms.

Farmers’ investment intentions remained relatively robust, the survey showed, with more than half of those surveyed, (57%) indicating they would maintain the same level of investment in their farm enterprise, while 22% expected to increase investment.

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It may be crystal ball gazing but confidence is important because farmers who aren’t confident about their own businesses stop spending which impacts on the people who work for, contract to, supply and service them.


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